Annual Palm Springs Trip Begins Friday
Feb. 22-24 | Palm Springs, Calif. | Big League Dreams Sport Complex
|Friday||No. 2/2 UCLA||8 p.m.
|Saturday||No. 14/13 Arizona||12 p.m.|
|Sunday||Cal State Fullerton||11 a.m.|
|Sunday||UC Santa Barbara||1:30 p.m.
NORMAN — The No. 4/4 Oklahoma softball team makes its annual trip to Palm Springs, Calif., this weekend for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic at Big League Dreams Sports Park.
This year marks the 14th consecutive season the Sooners have appeared in the tournament, participating every year since 2006. In that time, OU has gone 45-20 (.692) at the event.
The Sooners open the competitive tournament on Friday against BYU (5:30 p.m. CT) and No. 2/2 UCLA (8 p.m. CT). On Saturday, Oklahoma will face No. 14/13 Arizona at noon CT. OU’s weekend wraps up on Sunday against Cal State Fullerton (11 a.m. CT) and UC Santa Barbara (1:30 p.m. CT).
Last year, OU went 3-1 at Mary Nutter with wins over No. 17/15 Arizona State, BYU and North Carolina and a loss to No. 13/12 Arizona. Additionally, OU tied the Japanese National Team 3-3 in an exhibition contest.
Every game can be heard on KEBC 1560 AM in Norman or online via the Franchise 2. In addition, all of OU’s games will be streamed on FloSoftball.com for a fee.
LAST TIME OUT
Spending last week on the opposite coast, the Sooners went 4-1 at the inaugural St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational in Clearwater, Fla. OU’s record was the second-best team performance at the tournament behind only No. 1 Florida State’s 5-0 showing.
The Sooners opened the event with a 9-1 run-rule victory over No. 18/21 Kentucky in six innings, good for OU’s first ranked win of the season and its fourth straight run-rule win. Caleigh Clifton and Sydney Romero both had two extra-base hits, and Falepolima Aviu hit an RBI single to end the game in walk-off fashion.
In Thursday’s nightcap, OU took down RV/No. 24 Notre Dame 6-2. Shay Knighten was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI, while Raegan Rogers drove in a pair of runs. Rogers and freshman Grace Lyons both homered in the contest.
Junior Mariah Lopez threw her second career no-hitter to open Friday’s action, facing just three batters above the minimum in OU’s 4-0 win over Florida Atlantic. She struck out a career-high 13 batters, good for her third game this season with double-digit strikeouts. Offensively, OU was led by Jocelyn Alo’s 3-for-3 performance.
OU suffered its first loss of the season that afternoon, falling 7-4 to No. 1/2 Florida State. After Florida State took a 3-0 lead on a pair of home runs in the second, the Sooners tied it up with three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Romero then crushed a solo home run to put OU on top, but the Seminoles would hit three more homers to earn the win.
The Sooners responded with a commanding 17-3 victory over RV/NR Hofstra in five innings on Saturday to close out the weekend. Alo hit two home runs in the game while Romero, Lyons and Grace Green each had one. The Sooners’ (8-1) five home runs against the Pride (0-2) were the most by an OU team in one game since hitting six against Kansas on April 14, 2017.
LOPEZ EARNS BACK-TO-BACK BIG 12 HONORS
Mariah Lopez opened her junior season by winning the first two Big 12 Pitcher of the Week awards of the year. Overall, she has three weekly accolades from the conference in her career.
Over opening weekend at the GCU Kickoff, Lopez was 2-0 in two starts. Entering the 2019 season with one solo shutout in her career, Lopez recorded a shutout in both of her appearances. She threw one-hitters in each game, finishing with a league-best .051 opponent batting average.
Additionally, Lopez struck out 12 batters against Syracuse and 10 against Charlotte. Prior to opening weekend, Lopez had one career game with double-digit strikeouts. She finished the opening weekend of action with 12.83 strikeouts per seven innings pitched, the highest average in the Big 12.
Last week, Lopez tossed her second career no-hitter against Florida Atlantic. She struck out a career-high 13, marking the most strikeouts by a Big 12 pitcher in a single game in 2019 and her third double-digit K performance of the year.
Over the weekend, she allowed just two hits, both against No. 18 Kentucky. She led the Big 12 with a .045 opponent batting average.
Currently, Lopez leads all conference pitchers with a 0.27 ERA and a .048 opponent batting average during her junior campaign. She has thrown three shutouts in four starts this season.
THE HAWAIIAN PUNCH
Jocelyn Alo was exceptional in her freshman campaign and is looking to carry that momentum in 2019. The NFCA and Big 12 Freshman of the Year, Alo led the nation with 30 home runs in 2018 to tie the Oklahoma single-season record, the Big 12 single-season record and the NCAA DI freshman single-season record. She also led the country with 170 total bases and ranked second nationally in RBIs (72), third in slugging percentage (.977), seventh in RBIs per game (1.03), 11th in on-base percentage (.549), 13th in runs per game (1.03), 14th in walks per game (.79), 25th in batting average (.420) and 46th in hits (73).
The Hauula, Hawaii, native paced OU in home runs, total bases, batting average (.420), RBIs (72), slugging (.977), on-base percentage (.549) and walks (14) during the 2018 season. The freshman was clutch during postseason, drilling solo home runs to give Oklahoma the lead in both of its 2018 WCWS wins (vs. Arizona State and Florida).
Last year, Alo was named an NFCA First Team All-American, a First Team All-Region selection, a First Team All-Big 12 pick and an All-Big 12 Freshman Team honoree. She was also placed on the WCWS and Big 12 Championship all-tournament teams and was named a top-10 finalist for the USA Softball Player of the Year.
Alo carried her momentum into the start of her sophomore season. She has matched a single-game record with four three-hit games. Alo smashed her first home run of the season against Hofstra before drilling her second later that game.
THAT'LL LEAVE A MARK ... ON THE RECORD BOOKS
Senior captain and Oklahoma native Caleigh Clifton set a program record on Feb. 16 for the number of times hit by a pitch. The first pitch of the game against Hofstra hit her in the leg for her 55th career HBP.
LAST TIME THEY MET...
In the all-time series, OU leads BYU (7-1) and UC Santa Barbara (4-0) but trails UCLA (4-9), Arizona (19-29) and Cal State Fullerton (5-11).
The Sooners have won their last six meetings with the Cougars. OU and BYU also met at Mary Nutter in 2018 with OU claiming a six-inning, 10-0 victory.
Despite trailing the all-time series, OU is on a two-game winning streak against fellow 2018 WCWS participant UCLA, claiming a 11-7 victory at Mary Nutter in 2016 and a 10-1 run-rule win at Mary Nutter in 2017.
Saturday’s matchup with Arizona will be a chance for OU to avenge one of its five losses in 2018. The Wildcats have won the past three meetings, including its 2-0 shutout win at the 2018 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
OU snapped a two-game losing streak to Cal State Fullerton in 2018, claiming a 14-3 victory in Fullerton. The last four meetings have taken place on the Titans’ home field; the two teams last met at a neutral site in 2018 with OU winning 7-1.
The Sooners open their home slate March 1-3 as they host Oregon State and Louisiana in the Courtyard Marriott Tournament at Marita Hynes Field.